The concept of windows and mirrors in childhood education has been floating around for a few years now. The idea is to expose children to books that portray people who look like them (mirrors) and those who don't (windows).
When people of color do not see themselves in literature, at any age, it can make them feel insignificant, even invisible. And children who do see themselves in books are missing opportunities to see other kids' experiences, other cultures and languages.
Books that reflect the real world offer a springboard for conversation about real world topics, like race, disabilities, gender non-conformity, religion, homelessness, etc.
Even if no one talks to kids about race, they notice. Research shows that babies as young as 6 months will stare longer at photographs of faces that are a different race than their parents because they are trying to make sense of them. If we don’t talk to kids about race they are left to make their own assumptions and judgments and that can lead to troubling results. These conversations can make us uncomfortable but will help us and the children we care for grow.
While there is still a lot of work to be done, the publishing industry has made tremendous progress toward better representation in picture books. Below are just some of our favorites. Share them with someone you care for.
Video: The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf – Grace Lin, author of A Big Bed for Little Snow and Dim Sum for Everyone
Article: Children’s Books as Mirrors and Windows – by Debbie LeeKeenan, anti-bias leader in childhood education
Infographic: Diversity in Children's Books 2018
Much of this material was shared recently at a STARS training. Click here for more information about STARS trainings offered at Sno-Isle.